While California’s beach cities attract millions of visitors every year, its mountain areas offer the perfect winter getaway. During winter, California’s mountain towns and ski resorts become hotspots for both locals and tourists alike. From Southern California to Northern California, here are the five best ski resorts in the Golden State.
Mammoth Mountain – Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Mountain blends world-class skiing, rustic charm, and modern attractions. This ski resort in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains is the highest in the state and has one of the longest seasons in the entire country. Owing to its high elevation, Mammoth Mountain sometimes stays open well into the summer.
Mammoth Mountain is home to more than 3,500 acres of skiable land, and its many trails are served by an efficient system of 28 lifts. There are over 150 runs at Mammoth Mountain designed for all skill levels. It’s a great resort for beginners, families, and skiers or snowboarders seeking more challenging trails.
To reach the mountain’s summit, which is a little over 11,000 feet, visitors can ride a convenient gondola. It takes visitors directly from the downtown village area to the mountain’s summit and offers stunning views the entire way. After a day of skiing, the nearby village offers top-notch dining, shopping, and entertainment. From quaint lodges to high-end resorts, there are accommodations that fit nearly any budget.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort – Kirkwood
Kirkwood Mountain Resort is situated about 45 minutes south of Lake Tahoe in Kirkwood, CA. Known for its deep powder and adventurous terrain, Kirkwood is considered to be one of the best ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. And because it’s a little bit out of the way compared to other Tahoe resorts, it’s a great option for those who prefer less crowded slopes.
Kirkwood Resort’s high-terrain trails offer incredible views while providing a challenging run, even for advanced or expert skiers. While Kirkwood has restaurants and ski-in/ski-out accommodations, it lacks some of the high-end amenities found at other resorts. It’s a great option for die-hard skiers who don’t mind a no-frills environment.
Heavenly Ski Resort – South Lake Tahoe
With an elevation of just over 10,000 feet, Heavenly is the highest ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area. As the name suggests, Heavenly Ski Resort is known for being one of the most scenic ski resorts in the state. It is home to 34 miles of perfectly groomed trails that are great for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skier. The resort straddles the California and Nevada border, and its nearly 100 runs are spread between four base facilities.
Whether cruising down the beginner runs or catching air on High Roller Park’s jumps, skiers of all skill levels can have a great time. Both the California and Nevada sides also offer plenty of local options for lodging, dining, and shopping.
Northstar – Truckee
For those who want the perfect blend of skiing, amenities, and nightlife, Northstar is a great choice. This family-friendly ski resort is known for its abundance of beginner and intermediate runs. With long, wide trails, skiers can feel comfortable going at their own pace. While there are many kid-friendly areas, Northstar also has challenging slopes and two half-pipes for advanced skiers.
One of the biggest attractions of Northstar is its village. The village area has resorts, luxurious lodges, restaurants, bars, spas, and an ice-skating rink. Combining world-class skiing with high-end amenities, Northstar is one of the best winter getaways in California.
Big Bear Mountain – Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Mountain is a favorite winter destination for Southern Californians. While Big Bear doesn’t receive quite as much snowfall as its northern counterparts, it offers some of the best opportunities for skiing and snowboarding in Southern California. At just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Southern Californians can easily take a day trip to Big Bear without having to travel far.
Big Bear encompasses two ski resorts in the area: Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. Covering 440 skiable acres, both resorts have exciting runs and terrain parks for different skill levels. With freestyle terrain, skill-builder parks, and expert trails that wind down the mountain, skiers of all abilities can enjoy themselves. In Big Bear Lake Village, skiers can end their day at one of many restaurants in the area. Big Bear Lake also has great lodging options for weekend trips.